Friday, July 20, 2012

A Deeper Look At Disaster

So, let's develop what Ken Hite calls a "worked example" of a particular post-Disaster setting on a generation ship, using Table 3: Disaster Strikes The Ark! to generate the disaster.

We start by rolling a D3. And, I rolled a "3". So, we will do 3 rolls on Table 3:

  • The first roll is 18: Population crash due to disease.
  • The second roll is 5: Catastrophic computer network failure.
  • The third roll is 2: Radiation events harm ship and/or crew.

This one seems pretty straightforward. Our narrative goes a little something like this:

Ship year 2432. Ship Day 300. Hour 20:49. First Officer's Log. [Captain is ill.] Ship records prove our journey proceeded uneventfully for the first hundred years. Now, suddenly, everything has changed. The crew has become ill. A hyperbug, some novel form of influenza. 

At first we thought it was no problem. The crew knew what to do. We sealed the habitats off, and made sure the atmospheric systems for the habitats were isolated from the crew sections of the Ship. 

But that wasn't enough. The hyperbug took down more and more of the crew. Our antivirals couldn't keep up with it. Lethality has already reached to 75% of crew.

Suddenly, little problems have become very big. The Ship was built quickly. That is as true of the network architecture as it is of the hull and drives. In truth, the network was always a palimpsest. Code had been layered on code; patch on top of patch. System maintenance became an esoteric artform. And then the hyperbug came along and killed off all of our data artists. 

When the network went down, everything went dark. And then weightless. For about 3 hours. Then subsystems started turning themselves back on, and attempting to self-regulate. That was a few months ago. For a while, it seemed like we might get things back on track.

But then the radiation poisoning set in. You see, when the ramjet went down, the EM funnel - which served as the Ship's EM and particle shield - that also went down. The crew took the worst of it, but many habitats were hit as well. Most of the crew have no more than a few weeks left to live. 

We are trying to get as many systems as possible back up and running. We're cobbling together a new network for the ship. Yes, its another palimpsest - albeit on a much thinner and more fragile parchment. The Ship will have to function on full automatic for another 700 years or so. By then, we should be at our destination.


The post-disaster Ark:
  • Technology +0: Exploring the system (the Ark's systems are much more fragile and improvised than at launch)
  • Environment +3: Some garden worlds (all 50 miles across) - some were damaged by systems failures and radiation
  • Resources 0: Sustainable (Dome habitats remain self-sufficient)
    • The Ship is on autopilot - where's the crew?
    • The design flaws are more visible now
    • Worlds without end - at least a couple hundred are left


  1. I think that I recognize this set-up ::BEG:: I like what this produces, and could promote a wide variety of interesting adventures.

  2. You mean this set-up emulates a particular gen ship narrative in a book, movie, or game? Which one? These were truly random rolls on the table, so I am curious what real world text or storyline we came close to...I might need to check that out, especially if it is a book or movie.